Senate Committee Passes Critical Assistance for Military Families Experiencing Hunger

July 23, 2021

After years of inaction, the Senate took the first steps this week to close gaps in the safety net that have allowed active-duty military families to go hungry and caused food pantries to operate on or near every military installation in the United States. The Senate Armed Services Committee for the first time in its version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) included a critical policy championed by MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger that will implement a basic needs allowance to address the unique barriers that military families face to accessing nutritious food. Celebrating the Senate Committee’s bipartisan passage of this provision in the NDAA, Josh Protas, MAZON’s Vice President of Public Policy, called on members of both chambers of Congress to ensure that the measure is included in the final NDAA bill that is sent to President Biden’s desk:

“Today marks an important moment in Congress acknowledging and addressing food insecurity in the military after nearly a decade of MAZON and others advocating for solutions. We are grateful for champions like Senator Tammy Duckworth for ensuring that the NDAA includes the establishment of a basic needs allowance for low-income military families. We are hopeful that the House Armed Services Committee will include the Military Family Basic Needs Allowance provision in their version of the NDAA as they have in years past so that it is in the final defense package sent to President Biden’s desk. We stand ready to work with the Department of Defense to successfully implement this provision and remove other barriers to nutrition programs, which have caused and exacerbated the long-overlooked problem of military hunger. Our troops and their families deserve the basic dignity of putting nutritious food on the table.”

For nearly a decade, MAZON has led efforts to develop and advance policies that address food insecurity among military families, recently releasing a comprehensive report on the scope and persistence of the issue. An article in the Journal of Nutrition additionally found a correlation between food insecurity among servicemembers and mental health issues, and intentions to leave the military.